Way of St Francis: Road closed after Monterotondo, here is the temporary alternate

Update: Our thanks to local volunteers who’ve found a much easier alternate. As you approach the gate after the olive oil factory, checked to see if it is locked. If it’s locked, turn off onto a path on the right that allows you to bypass the gate. This alternative has been cleared with the neighbors and property owners, so you’re free to use it with a clear conscience.

The following alternative is retained here in case there is any problem with the work-around above.

I’m sad to report that Way of St Francis neighbors in the Valle Ricca and Tor San Giovanni neighborhoods have locked the gate to the private road on their property, making access to Monte Sacro and Rome much more difficult for pilgrims leaving Monterotondo (Stage 26, Way of St Francis). The gate is locked just after the olive oil plant. A big thanks to Gigi Bettin and volunteers in the Lazio region for finding a temporary alternative that adds only 1.7km to the day’s walk.

The GPX tracks for this alternate can be downloaded from Wikiloc at this link.

Here are directions:

At the end of Via Sant’Angelo (guidebook p. 249) turn left as directed and begin walking along the field with a house and tall, bamboo hedge on your right. Instead of turning right as directed in the book, turn left and (thanks to the kindness of the property owner) follow the edge of the crops, soon coming alongside a ditch. A two-track farm road soon picks up and then becomes a gravel road that ends abruptly at a wood, the Trentani Park. Turn right and continue uphill. Follow this 500m to the first right and in a few meters cross the Via Cesa di Loreto and go straight in a neighborhood of small olive groves and farms. Take the first right (on the paved Via Selva Dei Cavalleri) and then the second left (onto the Via di Quatro Conca). Turn right before the gate of the Villa Sesterzi and follow this road past the back side of the La Cerquetta agriturismo. Continue on past the end of the pavement and cross the wide field on a faint track, aiming at the farmhouse and outbuildings. You are now in the Marcigliana Preserve. Pick up the farm’s driveway, continuing west, until it ends. Turn left and find yourself on the original track.

This is what it looks like from the satellite:


The original track after Monterotondo is in green; the temporary alternate is in blue.


Guidebook updates will be loaded when a permanent alternative track has been set. Thanks for your patience! -SB

Great fun on a new/old project – the Camino De Santiago

You may have noticed that caminoist.org has been quiet the last several months. There’s a good reason — I’ve been immersed in a time-consuming pilgrim project, a new guidebook on the Camino Francés route of the Camino de Santiago.

Wait, another guidebook on the Camino, you ask? In reality this is not a new guidebook, I should say. One of the first guidebooks on the Camino was authored by the esteemed Alison Raju and published by Cicerone Press many years ago. What I’m doing is renewing and re-invisioning Alison’s work in a new format and for a new day by the same publisher. I was approached in Jan 2018 by Joe Williams and Jonathan Williams of Cicerone who recognized it was past time for a refresher on Alison’s work. They wanted the project to look and feel different than other camino guidebooks and proposed this formula:

  • Excellent, well-researched text;
  • Fabulous photography;
  • Coverage of Saint-Jean to Santiago and also Finisterre/Muxía;
  • Outstanding maps in an accompanying map booklet; and
  • An excellent smartphone app that coordinated with the print set but could be used on its own.

Tower of the Irache Monastery outside Estella, Spain

In short, they wanted to put together the best guidebook/map/app set on the market today. How could I say “no” to a goal like that?

I began researching the route — which I’d already walked twice — looking for the best print materials to form the historical core of the project. I read important documents like the Codex Calixtinus, the original guidebook from 900 years ago, and local histories of Galicia. I read art history books and Spanish history texts. Then I planned my trip.

Theresa and I took off for a five week walking camino last July/August and just had an absolute blast together. She’s such a great walker and explorer and so much fun to be with 24/7. Including 2014’s Way of St Francis project, this was her second time walking with me while I was researching, writing, snapping photos and recording GPS tracks. We walked the entire route from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Finisterre and Muxía, biking the Meseta to save time.

The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Barca, Muxía, Spain.

After the walk the work began. I sat down with notes, tracks and photos and began the work of putting them all together into an excellent guidebook. Cicerone knew I’d need help, so they stepped forward to purchase great photos from Seattle friend Rod Hoekstra, provided seasoned help for optional camino paths from Cicerone author Mike Wells, and then brought onboard my sister-collaborator, Roxanne Brown Nieblas, to put together the accommodations database that is the heart of any great camino guidebook. Jonathan Williams himself walked parts of the path and sent in his photos, too. Last January I traveled to the UK to meet the Cicerone team and compare our notes and expectations. Finally at the end of last month, after many weeks of every-spare-non-work-minute devoted to the project, I pressed “Send” and entrusted the manuscript and materials to Cicerone for creation of what I know will be a beautiful, elegant and extremely helpful new guidebook.

As their work of editing and producing the book begins my work takes a new turn. This summer I’ll return to Spain and bike the Way, draft guidebook in hand, and check out every detail for accuracy and clarity. At the same time I’ll enter information into the database that forms the core of the smartphone app that’s part of the package. I believe what purchasers will get, once it’s all done in January 2020, is a state-of-the-art guidebook that offers more and better information than anything else out there. Through it all I came to a renewed appreciation for the Camino Francés which is unlike anything else out there and really is a must for any walking pilgrim. I hope readers will see my love of this amazing walk through each page.

Recent pilgrims are happy to see that the Cathedral de Santiago’s façade is restored to its original lustre.

I’d never taken the extra time to see this pilgrim statue until this year. There’s Theresa!

No better place to stay in Burgos than Mesón del Cid hotel. Here’s the view at night.

View from the overlook at Grañon, one of my favorite pics.

Some pilgrims wander into a wedding scene. Taken from another great pilgrim hotel – the Parador in Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

This little valley is one of the most-photographed landscapes on the Camino.

Theresa leading the way in La Rioja on our way to Viana and Logroño.

That’s Theresa, standing in awe in front of the retablo of the Navarette church.

The herald blows a trumpet to the world to let them know how glorious is his town, Pamplona.